Archive for June, 2010

Why the Book is 23 Years Late

June 9, 2010

By Ed Chasteen

Alone and without money on a bicycle across America: That’s how I spent my summer of 1987. Mickey Mouse gave me a trophy. I planned to write a book to tell my story of that summer. Then folks in Louisiana elected a Klansman to their State Legislature.

I had always told my Race Relations students at William Jewell that it’s never enough just to know. We must be willing to act on what we know. We knew the good people of Louisiana had been embarrassed. We had to help them redeem themselves. We started HateBusters. The Governor of Louisiana invited us to come. We went. Word got out. We began to be invited all over the country. I had no time for the book.

So in demand had HateBusters become that I left William Jewell in 1995 to devote all my time to it. We help people who have been hurt because someone hates them. We go to court with them. Raise money for them. Get them a lawyer. Write love letters to them. Hold prayer vigils. Whatever they need. Free of charge. We never say no when asked to help. And we never ask for money from those who need our help.

That book has been on my mind all this time. I’ve worked on it when I could. Now it’s ready. It reads like a fairy tale. I still can’t believe it really happened. But every word is true. You will find it hard to believe. But you will want to believe. The way it makes you feel. The things you think about as you read. The possibilities it opens. You’ll be amazed. Below is page 12 of this 305 page book I call Thinkin’ and Livin’ by Bicycle.

Then one day our chaplain could not go to fill a speaking engagement. He asked me to go in his place. It was a meeting of high school boys at the headquarters of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes just across Interstate 70 from Royals Stadium. Bill Covington was in charge. When he told me he worked for AT&T, a light went off in my head. If AT&T would give me a calling card, I could call home every day to tell them where I was and how I was doing. I could get messages. I could call ahead to tell them I was coming.

So I briefly explained my ride to Bill. “Could AT&T give me a calling card?”

“No way,” he said. “We’re a business. We have to make money.”

“No problem, Bill. I’ll be okay. Thanks.”

Our conversation had taken place as we first met. After I talk for an hour with his boys about my trip, Bill walks me to the door. As we part, he says, “Write me a letter. I’ll see what I can do.”

On Thursday morning next I’m eating breakfast in my kitchen when the phone rings. It’s Bill. “In my 27 years here, we’ve had requests from every good cause and person you can imagine. If we approved one, we would have to approve them all. And we can’t do that. We had to turn them all down. I don’t know how to tell you this or why we did it, but we just approved your request.”

I didn’t know either. I had the feeling I had somehow tapped into a power I did not understand and could not control. And it wouldn’t let me alone. And all I had to do was to keep talking to people about my dream and asking them to help.

I sat down and cried. I was in to something over my head. My life was taking on a CamelotMan of La Manchadimension. I hadn’t planned this. I wasn’t sure I wanted it. Why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut and let this thing die? But now people were asking me questions about the ride. And every time I opened my mouth, out came something else I had not thought about saying, something that committed me to something else I couldn’t do. What have I gotten myself into? How will it all end?

My book will inspire and encourage all who read it. I’ve never been so sure of anything than of this. Please order an E-copy of Thinkin’ and Livin’ by Bicycle. Go to and click on donate. For a $20.00 donation, I will send you a copy on line. Your $20.00 donation will help HateBusters continue our work. If after you have read the book you think it was not worth the money, send me an email to tell me. I will refund your money. I would also like to know what parts of the book speak most powerfully to you. Send me an email about this, too.